During an orgy, Emperor Justinian orders three people to be torched alive.
Justinian's Human Torches (1907)
Original title: Les Torches humaines
(Alternative) Justinian's Human Torches 548 A.D.
(Short) Torches humaines
(Original) Les Torches humaines
(France, 1907) Star-Film
Categories6. Century Ancient Rome Black and White Burned on a Stake Drama Emperor Justinian Execution History Martyrdom Persecution Roman Empire Short Silent Film DramaHistoryShort6. Century, Ancient Rome, Black and White, Burned on a Stake, Emperor Justinian, Execution, Martyrdom, Persecution, Roman Empire, Silent Film
In a beautiful room of his palace, the Emperor Justinian is dining with several guests. As the meal progresses some dancers provide entertainment; and, then, in order to satisfy his brutal instincts, he orders some Christians to be brought in. These latter are bound in bundles of fagots and fastened to large wooden crosses in the courtyard. The inflammable material around the bodies is kindled, and to the delight of the members of the dinner-party, the unfortunate Christians are consumed.
Source: Star-Film Catalog
This is quite a macabre film from Melies, depicting an "orgy" that Emperor Justinian is having, and then he brings in Christians, puts them on stakes, and burns them. All is filmed in one scene, so it seems he tries to show how a film like this can be done with a multitude of people on the set. Also, I believe, the topic itself is so precise, with a year(548, toward the end of the Justinianic plague) in the alternative title, that it is probably also made in order to shed light on the persecution of Christians at the time - either that or that it simply gave him a reason to put fire on people in a film. Somehow, it is misplaced for its time, but in other ways it shows that the effects have matured and the sets are much more detailed than early Melies. He was still trying new things, and even to shock a bit too.